I was going to put together an E-Book with this information and throw it online for a donation price. I have no decided I am going to outline the steps and sections in a blog post each week. Here you are, starting with part one.
Bottom line, I put in a ton of time and effort which is frustrating when you are doing it, but extremely valuable in the long run. I expect 10% of the people who read this will do everything themselves and actually pay their bills doing music. This will separate the savage entrepreneurs, and the weekend warrior drinking musician. More then being the best musician (because I am not) it takes determination and a business mindset.
Section 1: The Work before the Work
Building the Show – How are you going to separate yourself from the thousands of musician’s competing for the same job that you want? Make your show unique, add a looping device, add some cool effects or multiple instruments, and give your show some dynamic range. You’re going to need 1 song for every 5 minutes of playing time. If your show is 4 hours of covers, you need about 50 songs (bare minimum) that you are comfortable playing. This is the work that no one see’s and you will be paid for down the road.
What you need to get started
- Working PA System (no overkill, easily portable and fits in your car/truck/van)
- All your own instruments and cables, proper gigging gear,
- A book of song lyrics & chords (key to your success)
- The Internet, email and a phone.
- Business Cards or something to provide to patrons at a show
Book of Song Lyrics & Chords – This is easy; you need to build a repertoire of songs that 80-90% of bar patrons will know. Just pick the timeless songs, all number one hits from many eras and genres. Mix it up a bit, don’t play ALL classic rock, but don’t play 20 jazz songs throughout the night. I try to pick a few radio stations that play a variety of music and when a good song comes on, take a note-add it to the “songs to learn” list. Expand your horizons, if you don’t like country music, learn to like a few songs and learn them. Most likely there is going to be a high percentage of country music fans at all venues. If a great song is out of your vocal range, transpose it into a range that fits your needs.
- Put together a clean binder, with protective page covers (this is your bible)
- Include on the song page all chords, capo position, or special notes
- Keep a back up online, or on your computer all the time!
- Keep the fonts large enough to read in dim lights, far away
- Separate verse and chorus with bold letters for easy reference
If you have everything you need, set it all up at home and get practicing. The stamina you will need to complete a 4-hour show on your own as a one-man-show is taxing, you will need to “train” as if you were a runner. I highly recommend learning how to interact with the crowd, provide banter between songs and while you tune. Make yourself look like the professional you are. Its great to know a little history about the songs you are playing, it’s an impressive way to introduce your songs and keep the crowed involved.
Come back next week and check out Section 2 which will provide you with more insight on actually booking your venues. How to contact them, how to butter them up and make sure you close a deal out that works for everyone!
See ya Soon